The night Slava grabbed a rifle

The night Slava grabbed a rifle


norman lebrecht

August 20, 2015

Twenty-four years ago this week, a group of ex-Soviet generals seized president Mikhail Gorbachev and held him hostage in Crimea. As tanks advanced on the centres of government in Moscow and Leningrad, thousands of citizens turned out to block their way.

Among them was the great cellist, Mstistlav Rostropovich, seen here relieving an exhausted parliamentary guard of his rifle.

UPDATE: Olga Rostropovich adds:  The guy next to Slava is the ” bodyguard ” which was assignend to him! His name is Yura. At some point Yura fell asleep and dropped his weapon. Dad picked it up so not to wake the “bodyguard” up.

slava with gun

Slava emerged as an outspoken supporter of the day’s political hero, Boris Yeltsin. The coup – which I watched live on television from the nervous safety of a media conference in Helsinki – was overcome within days.

Gorbachev was released but, broken, resigned before the year was out, to be succeeded by Yeltsin.

h/t: Boris Brovtsyn


  • Jonathan M. Dunsby says:

    ==Gorbachev was released but, broken, resigned before the year was out

    I wonder what, in some revisionist history, would have happened to the country if Gorbachev had found an extra bit of strength to keep going so that he and his people didn’t give Yeltsin a look-in ?

    Maybe even in that parallel universe they would still have ended up with Putin eventually.

    • MWnyc says:

      Or, for that matter, what would have happened if Yeltsin (who, I think, had some potential greatness in him) hadn’t been a raging alcoholic with severe heart disease.

      But he was.

    • John says:

      My sense is that they had myriad problems which had been building up for decades. Yeltsin didn’t ever seem to me to be up to the task, but I wonder if Gorbachev could have done much more at that point.

  • RedFever says:

    Of course they would have ended up with Putin no matter what happened. Russian mentality never changes – they are addicted to mind-control. As an example, the majority of Russian immigrants in America are addicted to Fox News – they swallow all the lies and distortions they hear on Fox as though it were the Gospel truth.

    • Mark says:

      Maybe because they are fed up with the leftist nonsense, having seen to what result these ideas led their old country. Now go back to watching MSNBC, regards to Al “Kill the Jews” Sharpton !